I finally think my fall schedule is set. I won’t be dropping my extra class just yet–I need to take care of some paperwork first–but it looks like the schedule I’ve been telling all my interviewers about is the schedule I’ll actually have. Whew!
So this is a good morning! I have some more interviews today, and I’m going to be finishing up some work from my summer job, and I feel really on the ball. It’s a good feeling.
Mr. Angst is working on his fantasy football draft right now, so I’m about to start reading some of my first week assignments. The chapter I’m about to read is about the federal courts–a subject I got to hear a very shallow lecture on today, in the class I’m TAing for. So I feel very into the federal courts vibe.
And while we’re on the subject of this semester’s classes, can I say that I got screwed by the Registrar’s office? My classes are in the WORST rooms. They are in rooms without air conditioning, they are in rooms without internet access. OK, the internet access thing isn’t the end of the world. (Or maybe I’m just saying that for the sake of the internets, though. Or am I? Who can tell?)
So anyway, that’s how my semester is shaping up: first day reading that I feel like I might already know and classrooms that REALLY REALLY suck. At least with the classrooms, I’ll probably miss a fair number of classes in the early autumn heat for callbacks. Right? Right?
Dear Downstairs, Dirty, Loud Neighbors:
I mean, really. You’re moving. I saw you loading shit out of your apartment today. I saw instruments being carried out. And you’ve been so good over the last week and a half–keeping relatively quiet, making yourselves scarce.
So why, WHY, did you decide to start playing music NOW? Right when I am about to EAT DINNER?
OH MY GOD. YOU SUCK.
I’m going on a callback today.
In preparation, I spent some time looking online for questions I should ask–just to supplement the ready stable of questions I’ve already prepared, of course. And what I found is sort of interesting.
For instance, I found a website for associates looking to lateral into a new firm that suggested asking the tough questions–what is the partnership track? how are associates evaluated outside of billable hours? what is the firm’s growth projection? These questions are good questions because they help the interviewee figure out if the firm’s management, growth, and business model will further the interviewee’s own ambitions. I like these questions. I think I might ask some of them.
But then I found a different website on a law school’s career services website that insisted you should NEVER ask the hard questions, because those kinds of questions give off a “what’s in it for me” flair. So, no asking about the pro bono program, no asking about how many billable hours are expected (to be fair, this is often on a firm’s NALP form, but sometimes it’s not), and, yes, no asking about the partership track.
I can understand that asking, “What hours will you expect me to be here?” might come off badly. But I would think a firm would be glad that potential future associates were asking about the partnership track–wouldn’t that indicate they are interested in sticking around to try to make partner? And firms nowadays also like to talk about their pro bono programs, because it’s a way they can set themselves apart from all the other firms. Sure, don’t ask if you can substitute all of your billables with pro bono, but asking if associates get the chance to do pro bono (as a way of getting excellent training in leading a case or matter, for instance) doesn’t seem like it would get you kicked out of the office right away.
I don’t know. Maybe my experience is skewed, because I am at a “top law school” (whatever that means) and the interviewing process is less frightening. My sense throughout has been less, “I’m competing against all these people for very few positions!” and more “Some of these firms really want to impress us because they want us to work there!” And that might make it easier for me to ask tougher or more pointed questions. (Always in a very polite and non-threatening way, of course.)
One thing I won’t ask about, though, unless I get a really strong vibe that it would be an OK question, is alternative scheduling. At the very least, I’ll be choosy about who I’d approach the topic with.
Tell my why it is that UPS can’t manage to figure out a safe place to leave last week’s delivery, but they are able to stash today’s delivery behind the trash can on the porch?
Oh my God, that was a really bad sentence. OK, here’s the skinny. Last week, they wouldn’t leave my package. I didn’t want it left, so I had it rerouted to a friend’s address. This week, though, they were happy to leave my package on the porch, in a reasonably hidden place. I don’t really understand. Neither package had a signature requirement, so either could have been left with no problems. So why did they leave one but not the other? I’m not sure I like this inconsistency–what if I had ordered something expensive (like my suit, from last week) and they left it and someone decided to take it?
Even better, today, the day they decided to be creative and proactive and leave my package, is the day that it’s been POURING all day. So my box of coffee is pretty wet. That’s OK–inside, it’s happily vacuum packed and staying nice and dry. But again, this presents the question: Why leave it today, when it’s raining and gross? Did the UPS guy figure no one would be out prowling for boxes to steal today? I just don’t get it.
Also today, the day that it’s been raining all day, the post office decided to deliver my other textbook. They also left that on the porch, on a windowsill, where it too got nice and wet. It was in a reasonably drizzle-proof package, but still. Oy. Something about rain and me. Seriously.
Welcome to my sort of Back To School edition of the Weekly Law School Roundup! I say sort of, because I personally haven’t started school again, and some of the posts featured below are from folks who won’t be starting school again this fall (seeing as they graduated, of course).
You Know It’s the First First Day (or Week) of School When…
- your workspace doesn’t work with your space (Who Cares What You Think?)
- things start getting tougher (Law and Mommyhood)
- you understand that it’s normal, but still think it sucks (Loco Delictis)
- you can see that it is fun (McLeod’s Blawg)
- you know you made the right decision (the littlest tortfeasor)
- Orientation gets in the way of school (this biochemical life)
- the Socratic method isn’t the same in every class (Schooled)
- you have school nightmares (Lunching with Lions)
- you do it for the first time (Law School Virgin)
You Know You’ve Done it Before When…
- you wear a suit all week (Burning Light of Reason)
- they start beating you with doorknobs (Cella Bellum)
- you’re living in a new place for the second time in a year (Dagny’s Law Blog)
- you actually have an opinion on legal writing (Frequent Citations)
- you haven’t cracked a book (La Mitotera)
- you wonder if there’s anything new to write about (Mother In Law)
- your goals for the semester make you actually feel good about the next three months (There’s No Competition in Law School)
- you wonder where sleep fits into your weekly schedule (Yayarolly goes to law school)
You Know It’s the Last First Day of School When…
- vending options are your biggest concern (Amicus Curiae)
- parking options are your biggest concern (Confessions of a Litigious Mind)
- they make you herd
catsfirst-years (Bananas go to law school, too!)
- you really don’t understand the academic calendar (Equal Process? Due Protection?)
- you are happy to accept REALLY long days for a REALLY long weekend (Transmogriflaw)
- every class day needs a drink special at the end (The Namby Pamby)
You Know You Never Have to Go Back When…
- that fact makes you really happy (Barely Legal Blog)
- it’s time to sign off (Buffalo Wings & Vodka)
- it’s time to say goodbye (Three Years of Hell to Become the Devil)
- you wonder if it’s time to sign off (the imbroglio)
- you get insured (by the seat of my skirt)
- you can afford new clothes (Collateral Evidence)
- you just got back from somewhere really cool (The Great Change: Turning Cathy into a Lawyer)
- you’re babysitting a pig (Strict Scrutiny)
- you treat yourself to something special (Will Work for Favorable Dicta)
And that’s it for this week’s roundup! Check for it next Sunday at Evan Schaeffer’s Legal Underground and then, in two weeks, back here!
I think I’ve discovered what it is about OCI that makes law students crazy.
It’s the validation.
As law students, we get so little affirmation that we are doing good things, or that we are doing things well. We get almost no confirmation that we are worthy, that we are smart (or smarter), that this whole path is worth it. And OCI is a process that promises to tell us that we are OK, or reinforce our suspicions that we suck.
So for all of you out there going through this right now, or about to go through it, or thinking about going through it, remember: OCI is not a measure of your self-worth. It’s not a measure of how smart you are or even how impressive your resume is. OCI is just job interviewing on speed.
Remember (if this applies to you) when you applied for that job, and you had to meet with someone for a first interview? And then, if things went well, you got a second interview, and then maybe got asked back for more interviews, or even hired? Remember that? OCI is EXACTLY THE SAME. It’s just that you do twenty of those first interviews in a matter of a few days. And then you wait, just like you would with any other interview, to be asked back for a second interview.
So now that I’ve drawn the analogy between OCI and every other job interview you’ve ever gone on, think of this: when you would go on a job interview, would you think that every other person who might not be getting that job interview was stupider than you? If you got a second interview, would you think that all the people who didn’t get the second interview were less talented than you? If you’re like me, you didn’t. I remember being on a group interview, where everyone else in the room was clearly talented and smart and good at any number of things the job required. It’s just that I was good at something the rest of them weren’t–and I got the second interview (and eventually the job).
OCI is not about how smart you are or how talented you are. It’s about what a given interviewer values at a given time. Sometimes that’s grades. If your grades are lower than someone else’s, that doesn’t mean they are smarter than you–you already know that, right? That law school grades can be random? So when an OCI interviewer calls someone back for a second interview, and they have better grades than you, you really can’t assume it’s because that person is smarter than you. Sure, maybe the interviewer values a number or a letter on a piece of paper more than other things. Maybe. But maybe not–you really don’t know. Maybe the interviewer doesn’t like gray suits and you wore a gray suit and the other guy wore a blue suit. And that little prejudice left you out of the callback process.
Anyway. All of this to say that law students go absolutely freak-out nuts during OCI because it feels like it’s an assessment, like it’s grades. And we get so little of that sort of feedback that we just soak up that sort of attention like little sponges, and suddenly we are FULL of whatever it is that we soaked up. We can’t stop talking about it, we can’t stop thinking about it, we become completely irrational over it.
OCI is no worthwhile measure of worth, intelligence, talent. It is just job interviewing on speed. And it has all the same flaws that any job interviewing experience has. If you remember that, it becomes less a competition against your classmates and more a process of reaching a goal–a goal you’ve set on your own, based on your ambitions, desires, and dreams.